Home coming. The past couple of months have been quite busy and writing has been put on the back burner. From the the outside you may think what could be busy about sailing around exploring new places and currently not working.... I thought that too until I started living on board ROAM. A day in boat land seems to disappear quite quickly, I lose track of time, days and weeks. Between general boat duties, "house hold" duties, study and sailing, time rolls by. So I have skipped some of our mainland adventure and I will re visit that later, but now I feel I need to share my thoughts on Sailing Home.
December; After our trip north, having the mast installed, sails made and tested it was time to get home. We were on a bit of a time frame with Christmas and family events to be home for. ROAM's sails took a little longer than expected to be completed but they beautifully made and well worth the wait, a big thanks to Sail Maker Rob Meezer. We had one day of test sailing from Gunnamatta Bay Cronulla with the new Mainsail and Jib, the next morning we set sail for the Bass Strait. What better way to learn to sail then sailing across the Bass Strait right?
Sensibly, it’s probably not the best idea to tackle the Bass Strait for your first ocean passage experience as a complete novice to sailing. In my case I could not have asked for a better first REAL sailing experience. Team roam left Cronulla in the early hours of the morning on Friday the 18th December, arrived in St Helens on Sunday the 20th. Now when people ask, do you have any prior sailing history, I can say no I did not come from a sailing past, however I have sailed the Bass Strait in two and a half days, learnt that I love sailing, have very little fear and a thirst for thrilling adventures. Living on board ROAM now for almost 4 months I have total 3'500 miles under my belt of which around 2000 have been sailing miles.
I must admit there were times where I was a little concerned I would open the wrong traveler clutch and send the mainsail flying and the boat into a spin or hit auto tack in the wrong direction, get my Port and Starboard confused and completely screw something up or fail to spot another ship in the night on solo watch. What I have learnt is that I am a practical learner and making mistakes, sometimes more than once helps me understand how this whole sailing thing works. Ask as many questions as I can and if I don't feel I know what has been asked of me, make that clear to the crew. Over all sailing is a new challenge, sometimes unpredictable, every day is different. It can be quite physical and the little bit of fear attached when things start to get hairy keeps it exciting.
So Bass Strait, we meet again, this time ROAM is an equipped sailing vessel and this time we spent two and a half days crossing the strait from Cronulla, non stop. Captain Mick, First officer Andy, second Officer Liss (me) and my Brother Kaidan, all keen and ready to go. We had beautiful sailing conditions. The first day calm enough to get my sea legs, practice yoga with the crew on the foredeck, cook up salmon on the barbeque for lunch and a good night sleep between watches over night. Second day plenty of wind, swell that ROAM just fitted in perfectly to surf, getting us up to speeds of 21- 22 knots. Sailing downwind in 20- 30 knots of breeze. The warmth of the sun kissing our skin, dolphins struggling to keep up with us, we were cruising and having a lot of fun. A new feeling, the power of the wind in the new sails as we accelerate, the sound of the bows slicing through the water and the absence of engines running. I feel like I am coming to understand wind angles and watching for the signs on the water and in the clouds when a wind change is coming or a pressure building.
The continental shelf greeted us with some fluky wind directions and messy sea state making conditions a little bumpy slowing us down, coming around Eddystone point we were hit with strong forty knot winds, making us drop the mainsail after two days of epic sailing. Sailing down wind is smooth, Roam surfs the swell amazingly and with 15-25 knots of wind we speed along.
Known to be one of the most treacherous body’s of water, at no point did I feel afraid or sea sick. I feel confident and safe with Michael and Andy’s decisions and knowledge. Every passage we make is carefully thought out and planned. The Navigation system and auto pilot is like having another crew member cleverly keeping us on track and alarming us of any danger. I have now crossed the Bass Strait twice in less than 6 months and sailing it for me feels like quite an accomplishment, leaving me feeling excited for more. ROAM is a extremely comfortable living space and I happily call Roam Home and Team Roam my family.
Mission Circumnavigate our Island state and discover all her hidden secrets
Getting back into St Helens, tying up to the wharf where we had left to start this adventure in October felt quite strange. Time feels like it has gone so fast. Now the time has come to ROAM our island State. From St Helens our first leg is to Wine Glass Bay. The Freycinet Peninsular never disappoints, blue waters, dolphins, beautiful beaches, sheltered bays, impressive rocky coast line, and mountains rolling down to the waters edge.
Freycinet National Park is loaded with natural assets, including the pink granite peaks of the Hazards Range that dominate the Peninsula and an abundance of bird and sea life. Exploring the peninsula from the water is a a whole new experience. I have walked into wine glass bay many times but sailing in is pretty special, something I once only dreamed of. We enjoyed a night in Wine Glass and a walk along the beach up the look out, a night in Coles Bay and sunset paddle boarding.
One of my highlights from Freycinet was exploring the caves of Ile Des Phoques. Mick and I took the tender and were able to get inside the caves. One cave full of seals that unexpectedly jumped out into the water in front of us giving me quite a fright, another leaving us with our jaws hanging open. Its high ceiling, colorful bright green, brown and red slimy walls, growling echo’s from the water movement and a beaming sky light lighting up the aqua waters. I felt as though I was entering a pirates cave of hidden treasures. I was able to capture this on film, a pretty special place that you can only access by boat have a look for yourself in episode six.
We left Ile Des Phoques and headed South toward Hobart. What better way to get to a party than sailing in, anchor, take the tender to shore, then walking bare foot along the beach to your mates place… We cruised through the Denison Canal up through Cremorne water ways, as far as we could to get close to Benn and Nicole’s house in Clifton. It was Nicole's 30th/New year’s party. Definitely a night to remember, Team ROAM managing to make it back to ROAM in the darkness/early hours of new year’s day, by head torch...
Next we get Isolated as we head further South to the most southern point of Tasmania....